The Matchup: No. 4 Wisconsin (23-2, 11-1 B1G) at Penn State (15-11, 3-10 B1G)
When: Wed. Feb. 18; 6pm CT
Where: University Park, PA; Bryce Jordan Center (15,271)
Radio: Badgers Sports Network
Last Meeting: UW won, 89-72, in Madison (12/31/14)
All-Time Series: Wisconsin leads, 32-10
Projected Starting Lineups:
G Shep Garner - Fr. 6-1, 185 (9.2 ppg, 2.4 apg)
G Geno Thorpe - So. 6-3, 180 (8.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
G D.J. Newbill - Sr. 6-4, 250 (20.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
F Brandon Taylor - Jr. 6-6, 225 (10.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
C Jordan Dickerson - Jr. 7-1, 245 (2.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
G Bronson Koenig - So. 6-4, 190 (7.2 ppg, 2.1 apg)
G Josh Gasser - Sr. 6-4, 192 (7.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
F Sam Dekker - Jr. 6-9, 230 (13.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
F Nigel Hayes - So. 6-8, 235 (12.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg)
C Frank Kaminsky - Sr. 7-0, 242 (17.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg)
Key Matchup: Brandon Taylor vs. Nigel Hayes
Let’s be real for a minute, star guard D.J. Newbill is likely to get his. He has all season long against any and all comers. Still, the key is to limit the damage the rest of the Nittany Lions can do. On Wednesday night that means Nigel Hayes playing well against the second-best scorer on the PSU squad — Brandon Taylor.
Not only that, but Taylor is Penn State’s major rebounding force and Hayes will need to keep him off the offensive boards tonight if Wisconsin wants to control this game.
The Badgers could also use a big game from Hayes, who has kind of shrunk in to the background as Dekker has taken off as of late. He has shot just 6 of 20 from the field in the last three games, despite scoring 11 points and 14 in two of the last three games.
However, Hayes has done a lot of good work by drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line, where he’s put up 19 of his 33 points over the last three games. Putting Taylor and the Penn State front line in foul trouble would also be huge.
3 Important Numbers:
- 60: Wisconsin has won 20-straight games against Penn State when it has scored 60-plus points. Bo Ryan coached teams are 19-0 in that stretch, so finding a way to not get ugly in this game is going to be huge.
- 20-4: Bo Ryan is 20-4 against both Penn State and Indiana, which are his best marks against any Big Ten team. UW has won six straight in the series, three in a row at Penn State and nine of the last 10 in Happy Valley. Let’s just say Wisconsin has a way of finding wins no matter what at the Bryce Jordan Center.
- 7: After scoring just three points in the win over Illinois on Sunday, Josh Gasser is just seven points away from joining Michael Finley in the 1,000-point, 500-rebound, 250-assist club. They’d be the only two in UW basketball history to do that. Gasser would also be the 39th player to reach the 1,000-point mark in Badgers history.
Prediction: Wisconsin 84, Penn State 55
While it seems tempting to say the Badgers are due for a head-scratching loss considering it’s hot streak and what is happening around them in the Big Ten, I just don’t see it. The Badgers are firing on all cylinders, especially with Bronson Koenig at point guard and Penn State isn’t nearly as experienced as it was the last few times it gave UW trouble.
I look for Gasser to have himself a breakout game and Nigel Hayes to take over from the field for a change. It will all add up to Wisconsin coming away with an easy victory.